transportation to, from and within Cape May

Unless one is using the ferry system that connects Cape May to nearby Delaware, visitors to this Victorian-era enclave will most likely be arriving by car or bus.  The voyage from all points north is made possible via the Garden State Parkway, which although riddled with many a toll booth, is actually quite a lovely drive, particularly as you get near the Cape.  

On our most recent trip in August of 2013, we made the 3 ½ hour trek from New York’s Port Authority via bus!  New Jersey Transit offers multiple trips up and down the Jersey Turnpike via route #319, which dropped us off in Atlantic City near the Tanger outlet shops (see “sights”).  Though we conveniently had family to pick us up from there, three buses will take you all the way to Cape May on weekends, with an additional 2 during the week.  The cost for bus fare is $39 one-way, a nominal fee considering the peaceful journey that awaits you in a comfy, air-conditioned cabin with Express Lane privilege.  

The ironic thing is that once you enter Cape May your vehicle is hardly necessary, unless you have situated your clan blocks from the beach and have a horde of sand castle toys to shuttle back and forth for the little ‘uns.  Cape May and its town center and main attractions are all easily walkable, and a joyous stroll they provide.  Every street is so quaint and scenic, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself strategizing a longer way home just to hit a new block not yet examined.  

Of course, the township of Cape May knows a good tourist dollar when they see one, and offer a variety of other options when your feet have had enough.  Both trolleys and horse-drawn carriage rides come with an assortment of preferences.  Interested in Cape May’s history and architecture?  How about its storied ghosts?  Hosted tours will keep you informed from Cape May Harbor all the way to Sunset Beach.  Of course, if you’re looking for a little more peace and quiet and only want to neck with your sweetheart, we’re sure that can be arranged as well.

Cape May Carriage Company has been offering their turn-of-the-century goodness for decades, ever since Cape May’s resurgence as a tourist haven in the 1970s and 80s.  Tours come in half-hour increments and are given daily (weather permitting) during summer months and in the week leading up to Christmas.  Keep in mind that during the off-season, tours are usually only available on weekends, unless you have landed in October when “haunted carriage rides” are offered most evenings.  Check CMCC’s website for specific times if you’re feeling the need to plan ahead.  Otherwise, visit their outpost at the corner of Ocean and the Washington Street Mall to purchase tickets and arrange your trip.  The price for a carriage ride is $40 USD for two adults ($12 for each additional adult or $6 for each additional child ages 2-11).  Tickets can be purchased in cash or travelers checks ONLY - no credit or debit cards are accepted.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities Trolley Tour is a less clip-cloppity, and perhaps a fresher-smelling alternative, though arguably not as quaint.  Their objective is ultimately to educate the first time visitor to Cape May on what makes the community tick, focusing on history and the town’s struggle to remain vital through the decades.  Tours are offered multiple times a day in the high season while a more limited schedule is available in the off months.  Make sure to check their website for current offerings.  Trolley rides cost $10 USD for adults and $7 for children ages 3-12.  

The aforementioned Cape May-Lewes Ferry is yet another option available to those who want to maximize their surroundings while in Cape May.  The port is located on the north side of town near the harbor that you’ll pass when leaving the Garden State Parkway behind.  Trips leave the marina multiple times a day and carry passengers 17-miles across the Delaware Bay.  On the other side, sight-seers are welcomed by a quaint village that, among other things, boasts tax-free shopping!  Nearby Dewey Beach and the Rehoboth Arts League are other top draws.  

If you are in Cape May for more than two or three days, this option is a great way to break up consecutive days at the beach!  The Cape May-Lewes Ferry operates daily from 6:30 AM with the last trip back from Delaware leaving at 7:45 PM.  Ticket prices vary whether you are bringing your car or not.  If you just want to head over for the day, sans vehicle, expect to pay $18 USD round trip for adults in the peak season and $9 USD for children ages 6-13.  (Under is 6 years old is FREE.)

Set of Drifters tip:  Still looking to work off that last crab cake?  Walking tours, specifically of the ghost variety (see “sights”), are a huge hit in Cape May.  We are told that guided trips through a handful of historical homes are even available on select weekends of the year.  Check with the Visitor’s Information booth on Washington Street Mall for more information.  

New Jersey Transit - http://www.njtransit.com/summer2/summer_js_bus.html

Cape May Carriage Company - 100 Stevens Street, Cape May, NJ  08204, (609) 884-4466, http://capemaycarriage.com/

Historic District Trolley Tour - Washington Street Mall (at Ocean), Cape May, NJ  08204, (609) 884-5404 or (800) 275-4278, http://www.capemaymac.org/historicdistricttrolleytours.php

Cape May-Lewes Ferry - 1200 Lincoln Boulevard, Cape May, NJ  08204, (800) 643-3779, http://www.capemaylewesferry.com/